Paradise found? A Visit to the Seychelles (part 2 of 4)

- Erik Haugen, Erik Haugen, CEO of Kiwi Collection, has a well-deserved reputation as an outstanding merger and acquisition specialists, a leader and a premier long-range business development strategist. In addition to a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics magna cum laude from Cornell University he has a Master’s degree in both Marketing and Finance from one of the most celebrated academic institutions in America – the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. As an Executive in a handful of high-powered consulting firms, Erik has developed long-range strategic plans for several Fortune 100 clients. He has also found success as a Senior Sales and Marketing Executive in the pharmaceutical and resources industries of Europe and the United States. His extensive professional experience has led Erik all over the globe and he has been a guest at many of the world’s finest hotels. And, while traveling with his beloved wife, Erik has developed a passion for fine cuisine, fine hotels, and exotic locations. His success in the world of high-finance has allowed Erik to fuse his passion and professionalism into his current role at the helm of Kiwi Collection.

Seychelles: North Island

The first property we visited was North Island and the experience started the moment we disembarked from the plane. A representative from Mason Travel met us (holding that universally acknowledged “welcome mat”– the sign with the travellers name), and escorted us through passport control, luggage pick-up, customs, and through to the domestic terminal building where we would board a helicopter for a 20 minute ride to North island itself. Friendly, relaxed, efficient, and polite; he provided us with all the necessary information to make us understand where we were, and feel comfortable that we were in safe hands. He provided a brief description of where we were going and what the process would be, and we could not have imagined a more perfect way to start our “luxury” experience.

With the camera going nuts and the excited chatter of my wife and the helicopter pilot on the helicopter intercom, I finally saw our destination approach on the horizon.

Upon first impression the island was larger, greener, and more lush (this is becoming a theme!) than we had expected. It was no surprise to learn that North Island runs an environmental conservation program, which is heavily involved in bringing back endemic species of plant and animal to the island. North Island is a private island, with 11 guest villas supported by ~130 staff. The experience visitors have on North Island is truly a “super” Robinson Crusoe experience: all the pleasure of a beautiful island with few others, combined with all the modern conveniences you would come to expect in a modern city hotel – there was nothing missing!

We landed on one of the four beaches on the island and were met by Ronnie, the Guest Relations Manager, and Richard, our personal butler. We were driven in a little electric buggy to the main building where we were provided with cooling towels and a welcome drink.

Ronnie provided a high level description of the island as well as some of the activities we could do, then left us in the care of Richard who took us to our villa (villa #2) and showed us around.

Note that each of the 11 villas is pretty much the same with the exception of Villa #11, which is about twice the size of the others.

Our villa was perfect. It consisted of six areas covering a total of 450 square meters. Only two of the areas were fully enclosed: the master bedroom, and the guest bedroom/study. The other areas consisted of the master bathroom, the guest bathroom, the main living area (including a kitchen), and the main deck with the lounges and plunge pool. The décor could be described as rustic chic and is perfectly in keeping with the setting and the feel of the property. All the furniture was old but nicely weather worn, and the soft furnishings were fresh and looked completely new (a real feat given that they are exposed to the elements 24 hours a day, 365 days a year).

The miracle they have created on North Island is this combination of rustic chic with all modern conveniences. We did not want for anything. We had air-conditioning in the bedrooms, dimmer switches for the lighting, a Bose stereo, satellite TV, DVD, fully stocked fridge (with items we had requested in advance), and coffee maker. But best of all we had our butler Richard, for whom nothing was too much trouble.

The villa was fantastic, but the setting was stupendous. Stretching out in front of the villa is a lawn and then the pristine white beach, which stretches for 1.5km down one side of the island. All the villas 11 as well as the main buildings (restaurant, etc.) are located on this stretch of beach, but they are spaced so well that they are completely hidden from each other and feel completely private.

The first thing that struck both my wife and me was how private the villa seemed. This sense of privacy was to be reinforced throughout our stay on North Island. That is, everything about the island speaks of luxury, exclusivity, and privacy. Although all villas were full (occupied) we really felt as if we were almost the only people on the island. We hardly ever saw anybody other than the staff. One of the staff described working on North Island perfectly, “It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle.”

After our initial introduction to the island and its services, the six days we were there passed in perfect bliss. We woke up in the morning, ordered breakfast (anything we wanted, from eggs Benedict to pancakes, muesli, or fruit), took a stroll down the beach, or drove our electric buggy to the main building to kick off that day’s activity. During the day we had the option of going diving or fishing in the crystal blue water, body surfing on one of the pristine beaches, sitting on our deck in our villa, sitting by the main pool, visiting the spa, hiking around the island or up the mountains etc. In the evening we went to sunset beach for a drink – to watch the sunset of course (a bit of a ritual on North Island). This was often the first time in the day when we would see more than one other couple. We then had a choice of places to have dinner, and when we finally went to bed we were exhausted and content. I have rarely fallen asleep so quickly, or slept so well.

The sense of freedom we experienced was exhilarating. Since everything was taken care of by the Guest Relations team and our butler, we had nothing to concern us other than relaxing and doing the things we wanted to do. On the first day we did nothing other than stay in our villa, relax, and explore the island. On the second day we also stayed in our villa and explored the island. On the third day we took scuba diving lessons and went out snorkelling in one of the two boats they have on the Island. On the fourth day we relaxed by the main pool, followed by a private barbeque on Sunset Beach. On the fifth day we had a picnic on Honeymoon Beach, and on the sixth day we went to the spa on the hillside overlooking the Indian Ocean. Like so many other aspects of North Island, it left us speechless.

By the way, they do have internet access on the island and there are plans to install wireless in the villas. I have to admit though; I was not even faintly tempted to look at it.

We left the property the same way we arrived, by helicopter, and both Ronnie and Richard were there to wave us off.

  1. Colberg says:

    Cool stuff. just found your blog. keep them coming Money Printer